Product: Power Ethernet T1000
Price: £111 each
Powerline networking devices have made it a lot easier to stream broadband around your home, but they are unsightly lumps, jutting out of your power sockets and they don’t always have enough Ethernet sockets.
Power Ethernet’s T1000 is the first in a range designed to make powerline networking more flexible and elegant.
It’s a powerline adapter that fits inside a standard 35mm-deep UK double-gang socket, except that once fitted, you’ll have one power socket and four Ethernet ports for powerline networking.
They’re built to the Powerline AV 200 standard, which gives you a total network capacity of 200Mbps across your home, for up to 64 units. In practice that delivers about 85Mbps each way when you’ve got a couple of units streaming to each other, and if you use all four Ethernet ports on the PE T1000, you’ll be dividing its available 85Mbps in four again - still more than enough for an HD video stream.
It’s a secure connection, with AES 128-bit encryption. You can use the default network passwords, or define your own by connecting a PC with management software downloaded from Power Ethernet’s website.
It’s an elegant white unit, with LEDs to indicate power, network status and traffic, plus small buttons to reset the unit and pair it up with other powerline devices. Underneath the detachable faceplate is a grill which ventilates the powerline adapter within. Surprisingly, there’s no power switch for the socket itself, and dustplugs would be useful for any unused Ethernet sockets.
To take advantage of the PE T1000, you’ll need a second PE T1000 or a plug-in adapter near your router, and probably a power strip to make up for the missing wall socket. Then again, if you need four Ethernet ports you’ve probably already got one nearby (there are around 20 sockets near my TV).
The obvious time to install the T1000 is when you’re building a house or redecorating a room, unless you’re happy DIY-ing with mains electricity or don’t mind paying a sparky the same price as the unit itself to put it in.
It’s not a difficult self-install: turn off the mains to your socket circuit, test that it’s off (plug in a desk lamp), unscrew off the faceplate and disconnect the live, neutral and Earth wires, connect the three wires to the colour-coded connectors on the back of the PE T1000, screw it back onto the socket box, and turn on the power. A rewarding ale should still be cold in the fridge.
If you don’t understand the first line of that process, you will need to call an electrician, and in practise we did find that the 35mm-deep adapter block inside is too large for some older UK wall sockets. Unless you check your sockets in advance, you’ll only find this out the hard way.
I’ve seen several reviews criticising the PE T1000’s cost compared to single-socket Ethernet adapters costing £40. This compares more closely to adapters with multiple Ethernet ports that are likely to cost around £100 and are a lot less elegant.
We’d like to see an AV500 version that could handle much higher speeds, and maybe a built-in WiFi hotspot, but if you need office or home entertainment connections then the Power Ethernet T1000 is a reliable alternative to WiFi.